In Italy, the Epiphany on January 6 marks the official end of the Christmas season, commemorating the day when the three Wise Men arrived at the manger, bearing gifts.
The occasion is celebrated with the arrival of La Befana.
In Italian folklore, on Epiphany Eve (the night of January 5)
this old woman delivers gifts and treats to the good children…
…but if you were bad, look out – you may wake up to a lump of coal!
So, today ends a period of the year made of aromas and flavors that taste of celebration!
If you live in Siena (like me!) It is really difficult to resist the delicious traditional sweets, enriched with honey, walnuts, hazelnuts, dried figs, precious almonds, candied fruits, spices, vanilla sugar, powdered sugar … and much more !!
Ricciarelli are traditional Sienese sweets made of marzipan.
Do you want to know a curiosity?
Documents attest that the apothecaries prepared them as early as the 15th century. These sweets would have been named after Ricciardetto Della Gherardesca. A legend tells that on returning from the Crusades in the Holy Land, he brought with him some sweets made with almonds and honey which he wanted to reproduce. These sweets had a strange curled shape … similar to the slippers of the sultans!